by Claire Sparkes SGFA
My painting ‘threads’, watercolour and pencil on paper, was actually the second painting of this subject. The first painting, is titled ‘Warp and Weft’ and was made using oil paint on canvas. The inspiration for both pieces was my daughter. In particular her very long hair! I am intrigued by hair, its details and textures, as a subject in itself, and in often taking people as my subject, have found myself drawing and painting hair on many occasions. The length of my daughter’s hair makes it a wonderfully versatile subject, presenting many exciting compositional possibilities.
In painting ‘Warp and Weft’ I became aware early on of ideas which couldn’t all be included in the one image. So by the time I had completed this first painting, my sketched thoughts were ready for immediately starting ‘Threads’. With this second painting I wanted to include the books especially which are important to the subject’s character. The title ‘Threads’ was chosen to embrace not only the threads reflecting her interest in textiles and clothing, but also the threads of stories woven through the many books she enjoys, and the revealed fabric of life itself.
Drawing has become increasingly important to me. I have been drawing for as long as can I remember, notably from around the age of 13. The by-product of this over the years has been many sketchbooks! In my current artistic practice I keep 3-4 sketchbooks on the go; one charts the research and development of each finished piece of work, an A4 is used for observational drawing in pencil or pen generally, and a watercolour pad for small, quicker watercolour studies. An easy-to-carry A5 sketchbook travels with me wherever I go for quickly jotting down ideas, thumbnails for composition and on-the-spot drawings.
The inspirations I return to most frequently are people, nature and observations of life.
I was delighted to receive the Winsor and Newton prize for ‘Best Work in Colour’ at the Draw 16 exhibition at the Menier Gallery. It is a tremendous affirmation after the many hours of work which go into creating each image, and huge encouragement to continue and push my work forward. To receive the prize from Robin Light of Crane Kalman gallery and have the chance to talk with him was also a wonderful experience. The prize I received was a delightful case of drawing equipment which will keep me working hard in the months to come. (see photo prize)
As an artist, I believe there is a lot to gain from entering open competition exhibitions. In so doing, it is most important to select an Open which is appropriate for your work and to carefully read through the information regarding submissions details beforehand. Every ‘Open’ has its own detailed specifications. Entering an open competition, whether or not your work is selected, provides valuable experience in appraising your own work, ensuring it is well documented, and keeping up-to-date with the art world. It is always good to set yourself challenges in life!